3 Secrets to Navigating the Grief Journey with your G.P.S.

J in car

It was my worst nightmare. Receiving news that my son, Jordan, had died was the very thing I prayed would never happen. Losing my child pushed me to the limits of what I thought I could survive.

Do you feel disoriented by the death of your loved one as I once did? Let me offer you a few secrets to navigate your grief with hope. I call them secrets because only recently have I discovered their power to be guiding principles for the grief journey.

Everything about the landscape on our grief journey can look foreboding and confusing, even with previous experience. Each loss is unique. Each relationship is different. We all grieve in our own way.

I’m now eight years into my grief journey. What a grueling education it has been! I’ve chosen to help others by sharing what I’m learning about grief.

Today, I want to ease the burden of your loss by offering three secrets to navigating the grief journey with your GPS. They have special power to become remarkable coping skills.

Before my son died, I imagined I had control over my life. Now I know that all I can control are my perspective and my response to life’s tragedies.

Travelling through grief, I have learned to let my GPS guide me. The GPS (Global Positioning System) you may have in your car is not the same as the GPS I am referring to . . . although both help us navigate unfamiliar territory.

Everything about the landscape on our grief journey can look foreboding and confusing, even with previous experience. Each loss is unique. Each relationship is different. We all grieve in our own way.

I’m now eight years into my grief journey. What a grueling education it has been! I’ve chosen to help others by sharing what I’m learning about grief.

Today, I want to ease the burden of your loss by offering three secrets to navigating the grief journey with your GPS. They have special power to become remarkable coping skills.

Before my son died, I imagined I had control over my life. Now I know that all I can control are my perspective and my response to life’s tragedies.

Travelling through grief, I have learned to let my GPS guide me. The GPS (Global Positioning System) you may have in your car is not the same as the GPS I am referring to . . . although both help us navigate unfamiliar territory.

The GPS I’m speaking of is an acronym for Gratitude, Patience, and Serving others:

Gratitude

After the loss of my son, my habit of jotting down bullet points of praise in my thanksgiving journal came to a full stop. Gratitude, it seemed, had been buried with my son. Someone I couldn’t imagine living without was taken from me. For a time, I was blinded to the blessings by bitterness.

After a while, I could see how bitterness was making me ugly, clouding my perspective and choking out any chance for joy. It became obvious that I had two choices.

I could choose to be bitter and immersed in self-pity OR I could choose to become better — a better version of me. The path to better, I discovered, is clearly marked by an attitude of gratitude.

Gradually I resumed the daily discipline of noting three things for which I was grateful. As I lean into gratitude, I no longer resent my grief. Let me be clear. I would never EVER have chosen this path. But instead of wasting my pain, I have resolved to give my pain a purpose by helping others who are grieving.

One way you can honor your loved one’s memory is to be the best parts of them. What qualities did they possess that you valued the most? Choose to incorporate those admirable qualities into your own life to remember your loved one with gratitude.

Patience

There are three elements to patience:

1. Patience with Yourself

The trauma of grief has been described as a cognitive concussion. We are thrust into exhausting physical and emotional limitations. So, be kind to yourself. Patiently lower your expectations, just as you would with a grieving friend.

2. Patience with Others

We’ve likely all been wounded by the words of well-meaning people. But we can’t afford to lose patience with others. Often, they just don’t know any better. If you want to contribute to their grief education, give them a copy of my book, The Little Black Funeral Dress.

3. Patience with the Grief Process

When Jordan died, I was desperate to know “WHEN will this pain stop?” I longed for someone to predict an end date for my grief. But grief is not a sprint. It’s more like a marathon. It’s longer, harder and more demanding than I could have imagined.

What helped me gain some patience in the grief process?

Caring friends! I call them Hope Heroes. Their superpower is empathy and kindness. They lent me their hope when I lost mine.

These Hope Heroes were in my corner cheering me on. Mostly, they acknowledge my loss as ongoing. They kindly permit me to talk about Jordan whenever I want to. These friends are still active listeners.

Our ability to be resilient through the trauma of loss is greatly impacted by the friends we keep. Choose to spend time with friends who express empathy.

Serving others

Surprisingly, serving others is an integral part of our own self-care, providing physical and emotional benefits. So, give your pain a purpose. Our grief experience—when shared—can shed light for another grieving soul who feels like they are walking alone in the dark. There is a beautiful dynamic at work as we serve others. A little piece of healing starts to occur in our own heart.

Embracing Your GPS

If you are faced with loss, remember the three secrets of Gratitude, Patience, and Serving others. Embracing this GPS is a declaration of trust in our Father God. He offers to ease your burden and gently guide you on your grief journey. Choose to trust Him.
Psalms 91:2 NLT – “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him.”

Cheering you on,
Shirley

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Shirley Thiessen

Shirley Thiessen

Author and speaker helping you bring hope to broken, grieving hearts.

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